Monday, October 20, 2008, 3:04 PM

From the Politico: Is public financing of presidential campaigns doomed? If so, so what?

Larry Norton's response:

Yes, it's doomed - due to lack of interest and profound dysfunction.Americans have resoundingly concluded that public financing is not worth even the cost of a small - er, tall - latte. In 2006, only 9% of Americans agreed to set aside $3 for the public financing system. Even Senator Obama, whom reformers are counting on to resuscitate the system, checked "no" on his personal tax returns.

In the 2000 election, taxpayer money went to Lyndon LaRouche (over $1.5 million), John Hagelin (over $700,000), and Pat Buchanan (over $4.5 million) - and millions more went to others who never made it past the Iowa caucus. Sound like a good investment?

This year, the dysfunction grows. Senator McCain's cash-strapped primary campaign promised a bank it would stay in the public financing system if necessary to repay a loan. When the campaign gained its footing, it scrambled to get out of the system and escape the strict spending limits. In the general election, the McCain campaign is augmenting taxpayer money by adding references in his ads to his "congressional allies" (or something similar) - a device that lawyers argue allows the RNC to pick up half the cost. So much for the spending cap that's supposed to be the trade-off for taking public money. As for Obama, after pledging to participate in the public financing system, he ditched the idea, figuring correctly that he would pay no price for doing so. Yesterday, his campaign announced that in September 632,000 new donors contributed an average of $86 each. Why would Americans conclude that taxpayer subsidies are preferable to that?

See the full discussion on the Politico.
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